Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): Putting Marriage on the Agenda: How Oklahoma Laid the Foundation for Its Marriage Initiative. How Have the Initiative's Goals Evolved?


The goals and objectives of the OMI program are continually revisited and refined as new information and knowledge comes to light. Within the first few years of the initiative, it became clear that Governor Keatings initial divorce reduction goal needed to be revised, for several reasons. Input from the OMIs Research Advisory Group (a group of nationally known experts on marriage and divorce) suggested that the goal of reducing the divorce rate by one-third within a 10-year timeframe was unrealistic, given the average length of marriages. In addition, the lengthy time period needed for planning and launching the initiative meant that significant reductions in divorce might be delayed. Another factor complicating achievement of this goal was the unreliability of marriage and divorce statistics. OMI advisor Theodora Ooms explained to OMI planners the weaknesses in the data that had been used to estimate Oklahomas ranking as a high divorce state, and the unreliability of state data, as it was then gathered, for measuring changes in the rates. She also suggested that, by focusing mainly on divorce, Oklahoma could fail to recognize other important changes in the well-being of families and children that might occur as a result of the initiative, even in the absence of a reduction in divorce.

The OMIs goals were reformulated in collaboration with the Research Advisory Group, DHS, and OMI leadership, to address these issues and to develop a goal that is more aligned with the OMIs primary intervention strategy. The OMIs reformulated goal is to strengthen families and build healthy relationships through readily accessible marriage education services.

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